My first music gig

Woof again from me guide dog Fletcher! Hope you’re all pawsome and are enjoying good weather?! I’ve been out and about all over the place since I blogged last. I’ve been to my first music gig. It was called “Common People”. It was pawtastic and in a grassy park [which is really good for me as I love smelling the grass].

I excelled in my guiding. I knew exactly where to guide my human, the fabulous Fiona. She knew the vague direction she needed to go but that was it. I was in charge of navigation.

We weaved in and out many times. There were lots of people everywhere in all sorts of clothing.

Me guide dog Fletcher, well the back of my head and shoulders in the right hand corner of the photo. The rest of the photo are the legs and upper bodies of men. Some are wearing shorts and trainers, others jeans, some have ripped t-shirts on. @pawsatthekerb

And more people.

Me guide dog Fletcher once again guiding through the crowds. You can see the back of my head and shoulders in the far right corner of the photo. The rest of the photo shows men and women from the shoulders down. Most of them are wearing shorts which are different shades of brown. Many of the t-shirts are shades of blue. @pawsatthekerb

Human no. 2, also known as Andy, could just about keep up with the two of us. He wanted to stop and ask the way. But I cracked on. I knew, somehow, that I had to head to accessible viewing platform. 

Once I got my humans to where they needed to go, I decided it was time to snooze.  I’m very good at snoozing.

Me guide dog Fletcher part in the sun and shade. The sun bringing out the shades of my golden fut. You've got a head shot of me snoozing. I'm resting on big teddy and the leg of my human is just in shot. @pawsathekerb

My humans enjoyed themselves in the sunshine listening to the music.

Head shots of my humans in the sun against a blue sky with a flag in the background. One white male with glasses and dark brown hair. One light brown woman wearing dark glasses. Her hair is glack and she's in white and blue with a red bag strap showing. Both are smiling at the camera. @pawsatthekerb

The music had a good beat and seemed quite tuneful. I’ve no idea who was playing. Everyone at the gig seemed happy and many danced to the music.

My view of the Common People stage. The stage is rectangular and in the distance surrounded by flags and green trees. Most of the photo are people of different ages standing with their backs to the camera in the sunshine. @pawsatthekerb

Whilst the loud music didn’t seem to bother me, my humans kept a close eye on me in case it was too much. I spent most of the time snoozing. Though every once in a while I popped my head up to say hello. And to check if it was time for a treat.

Me guide dog Fletcher a golden fur Labradaor Golden Retriever cross. Well my head looking up to camera. You can just make out my body between the jean covered legs of my human. I'm on a viewing paltform and in the background is a water box and my Guide Dog harness. @pawsatthekerb

After a while, it was time to go. And I guided brilliantly on the route back taking my humans to the exit, which was different to where we came in, with very little direction. Somehow I just knew where I was going. My humans were pretty clueless.

We passed lots of people. Weaving in and out again. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to snaffle all the lovely food abandoned on the grass. Too busy focusing on keeping my human safe.

Me guide dog Fletcher. Just the back of my head and shoulders. I'm guiding my human to the right as there's a group of people in front of us sat on the grass. To the left of me are more people. These people are dressed in shorts, trainers and t-shirts. @pawsatthekerb

I was pawtastic! Even if I do say so myself. And I got lots of fusses for being so good.

Now unfortunately that was one of the few times that I have been paw perfect in the last two and a half weeks. Can’t quite put my paw on it as to why that is. I seem to have disrupted my guiding flow. Fiona, my human, is being very patient with me and continues to use positive reinforcement techniques.

On Sunday, I got to guide in my new harness for the first time (more on that later) and it feels good. I think my back feels better for it. Dog osteopathy and follow-up with the vets next week (if you’re new to my blog, see my earlier blog posts about my back surgery via my list of blog posts page). Hopefully the vet will allow me to play fetch again and have longer playtime in the park [running around, twisting and turning is soooo good for me, woofy smile]. Wish me well in getting my guide dog mojo back…

Woof and paw, 

Guide dog Fletcher. 

P.S. Found out that Stanley, my brother (see my guide dog family post), is back with Guide Dogs. They’re making sure he’s in tip top shape and up to speed with the latest guiding techniques before matching him with a new guide dog owner.

P.P.S. Thank you to every human and four paws following my blog. You’re very impawtant to me. And I love your comments. If you’re not following, then don’t miss out. Follow me…

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, May 2017.

My guide dog family

Woof, guide dog Fletcher here! Hope you’re having a pawsome Bank Holiday weekend?! The good news is that I’m continuing to improve my guiding behaviour and my back feels better. I’m getting my mojo back paw step by paw step. Reckon we’re two thirds of the way there now.

Today let me introduce, and re-introduce, you to some impawtant folk. Both four legs and two legs. My guide dog family. Well, just some of them. Being a guide dog means I have a huge extended family of fellow guide dogs. And rumour has it I’ll be meeting up with some guide dogs, including my brother Umber, very soon. Paws crossed that works out.

I’ve now updated my blog post with alternative text on my photos. The apology for not having done so stands. And I’ve kept the following text from my original blog post here but left it in italics. I would have crossed it out but couldn’t work out how. [Original April text: Oh, an apology from me. Accessibility is impawtant to me. Unfortunately due to technical difficulties, and me needing some extra help, my photos don’t have the screen reader friendly alternative text descriptions. I’ll get it sorted in the next couple of weeks and I’ll update this post. I know, in the meantime, I’m in the dog house.]

Back to my guide dog family.

Here’s dad, Golden Retriever Archie. I reckon I get my stubborn streak from him. This photo, courtesy of his owner Ruth, was from last year when he was on holiday.

My dad. He's a dark gold fur Golden Retriever. So his fur is long and curly. He's lying down on some grass facing the camera. @pawsathekerb

My mum is the lovely Jazz. She’s a black fur Labrador. And yes, if you look closely you can spot the odd black fur in my golden coat. You have to look hard though. We met my mum last year with her humans, Ginny and Andy. I had a woofderful time. My mum is great at playing tug. Read about my visit to my mum’s. Here’s a photo of the two of us. I’m in my guide dog uniform at the front lying down with mum sitting behind me.

Me guide dog Fletcher in my Guide Dog harness and red lead. I'm lying down and looking to the right. I'm with my mum who is sitting behind me. She's also looking to the right. I've golden fur and my mum has black fur. We're on dark grey paving slabs. @pawsatthekerb

Next up are my litter mates. They are Stanley, Ursula, Usher, Umber, Ulan, Urwin, and Uska. I’m the second eldest. And I think all of them, except Usher, qualified as guide dogs. Don’t we all look sweet and innocent as young puppies in the photo below?

Me guide dog Fletcher. Well mini me I should say and before I was a guide dog. I'm one of eight golden puppies standing up against the metal grid walls of our pen. There's pink bedding around us. @pawsatthekerb
Both Stanley and I have been on TV. You can see Stanley in action being trained in London in the TV programme: Oxford Street Revealed, Series 2, Episode 6. I gather that, recently, his owner took the decision to stop being a guide dog owner after an incredible 22 years of guide dog ownership. Stanley was their 8th guide dog. I don’t know what he’s doing now.

I met my pawsome brother Umber and his human Lauren when we were all campaigning in the Houses of Parliament; photo below and I’m on the right. Feel free to check out my earlier campaigning Access All Areas blog post. (By the way, I was on TV in Emily Davison’s piece for Channel 4 News on this campaigning called No Go Britain: Guide dog owners denied access. I’m on near the beginning and my human, the pawtastic Fiona, was the first interviewee). I’m looking forward to seeing my brother and his human again. Zoomies time soon…

Me guide dog Fletcher with my brother on the left. We make a handsome pair in our Guide Dog Harnesses. The legs of our humans are also in photo shot. @pawsatthekerb
I don’t know much about my other brothers and sis. One day I might get to meet my litter mates again. Here’s hoping. I wonder if they’ll remember me.

Now from four legs to two legs. I’m a Guide Dogs’ Name a puppy. And I’m named after the incredible human Alan Fletcher, the now retired Chairman of Swindon Guide Dogs Fundraising Volunteers. He and the good folk in Swindon raised money to sponsor lifechangers like me in memory of Alan’s guide dog Joy. I’m one of several pups4joy. Of course, I had to track him down and say hello.

Me guide dog Fletcher and my namesake. He's a white male with grey hair and dark glasses. He's wearing a Guide Dog jacket with shorts and trainers. He's leaning down giving me fusses. I'm lying down on the grass all excited. @pawsathekerb
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the dedication, hard work and love of my puppy walker, Di. She made sure I had a great start in life. I owe her a lot. I was mentored by her dog Kerry too. It was great seeing my puppy walker again last year. I got lots and lots of fusses. I like fusses.

Me guide dog Fletcher with my puppy walker giving me a treat. Of course, I'm being good and sitting down for my treat. My doggie mentor, who also has golden fur except that my mentor's fur is longer and slightly curly, is standing beside me. My puppy walker is a white women with dark and grey hair, and glasses. @pawsatthekerb
When I was going through my early and advanced training, life was made so much nicer by my boarders, Cressi and Andrew.  They helped me get proper down time after training and helped me re-energise at the weekends. They were fun and still are as I found to my joy. Yep, I saw my boarders again this year.

Me guide dog Fletcher giving one of my boarders a sloppy kiss. You see the heads of all three of us. To the left is one boarder, a youngish white male with brown hair. I'm in the middle. To the right is my boarder, a youngish white female with darker brown long hair. We're in the sun and the sky is bright blue. @pawsatthekerb
It’s been grand tracking down my guide dog family. In case you’re wondering I only got the contact details of my puppy walker. Everyone else I had to sniff out. Something to do with what you humans call Data Protection. I have a pawsome guide dog family. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about them. Let me know with your likes and comments…

Woof and paw, Guide dog Fletcher. 

P.S. Woof again! Been all sorts weather wise this Bank Holiday. Yesterday, cloudy then sunny. Today, my human says it’s raining cats and dogs. I’m protesting because I’d like to say hello to all those cats and dogs…

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, April 2017, updated May 2017 with alternative text on photos.

 

Fun with my boarders

Woof from me, guide dog Fletcher! I know it’s been a while. I’m still trying to sort out this niggle in my back. Thankfully it’s just a niggle and I’m getting a helping hand from an osteopath. My guiding is getting better, though I’m still stopping unexpectedly. Less so than before and I like this positive reinforcement technique that my human is now using too. All good stuff. Talking of good stuff…

I had fun with my boarders. No, not the wall kind of boarder which some in the USA are on about. By the way, that one is barking. No, I’m talking about two very impawtant people, Cressi and Andrew.

They boardered me when I was undergoing my early and advanced training to be a guide dog. Basically the time period after I was with my puppy walker, Di. And before I went to live with my human, Fiona, and qualified as a guide dog (I’ll give you a timeline and who’s who in my next blog post).

Cressi and Andrew took me into their home and made sure I got plenty of TLC in the evenings after training all day. Plus they made sure I had fun at weekends like going to the seaside.

I last saw them in July 2015. Here’s a photo of Cressi, Andrew and me from back then and when the sun was shining.

Me guide dog Fletcher back in 2015. I'm in the middle of my boarders Andrew and Cressi. It's a selfie. And I'm giving Cressi a lick. Photo credit: My boarder Cressi. (c) pawsatthekerb

And I got to see them again in 2017.

And we all went to the park. My first time running in a park since my back operation.

And Cressi and Andrew brought along life changer-to-be, Isaac; he’s now left them to live with his new owner-to-be and paws crossed he will qualify as a guide dog.

I had a mega pawtastic time!

In the park, I got treats from my human.

Me guide dog Fletcher sitting down. I'm not looking at you. I'm looking to the left and focused on my human who is giving me a treat. Her hand and my mouth are touching. (c) pawsatthekerb

Lots of fusses from Cressi. From Andrew too. Here I am receiving fuss from Cressi alongside Isaac; he has black fur and mine is golden.

Me guide dog Fletcher the handsome one on the right of the picture standing facing my friend, Isaac. Isaac has black fur. My fur is golden. We're in front of my boarder who's hand you can see rubbing the backs of our necks. (c) pawsatthekerb

Of course, life changer-to-be Isaac and I couldn’t resist running around and rolling on top of each other.

Me guide dog Fletcher lying down in the park. I'm wearing my Perfect Fit harness. My mouth is open. I'm on the left and have gold fur. my friend Isaac is to my right and he's upside down on this back. (c)pawsatthekerb

Oh, and there was the obligatory sit down photo call. Here I am showing Isaac how it is done.

Me guide dog Fletcher. A handsome Golden Retriever Labrador cross with golden fur. Sitting with my friend Isaac. He's on the right and has black fur. (c) pawsatthekerb

Then I got to show my boarders my awesome guide dog skills when we all went to the pub after the park (I am a professional after all). Lying down is key guide dog skill. As is staring up at humans with big brown eyes…

Me guide dog Fletcher lying down on the blue and cream pub carpet. My golden head just in view at the bottom of the photo. My friend Isaac is lying down turned to you. His black fur paws are wrapped around our boarders feer. (c) pawsatthekerbVolunteer guide dog boarders are pawsome (here’s the link to Guide Dogs’ website if you want to know how to become a boarder). A big thank you to everyone who boarders a guide dog-in-training / guide dog. I got two of the best boarders (not that I’m biased!). Plus I got to see them again when I was a fully-trained all qualified guide dog. That’s a big thing for me.

For, my human didn’t get details of my boarders. She had to track them down on something called Facebook (I’m not on Facebook. I’m still getting my paws around Twitter and blogging here). Took my human and Cressi over a year to connect. They got there in the end. Now we have said thank you to another two members of my guide dog family. How lucky am I?

Woof and paw, Guide dog Fletcher.

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to my woofderful mum, Jazz, who’s now retired. Her humans are Ginny and Andy. And to all guide dog brood bitches (that’s what they call our mums. Not very polite is it?!) and their humans.

P.P.S. My humans took me to the park briefly today (I’m not allowed too long in the park whilst my back still niggles). I rolled on my back (which made my humans happy). And also rolled in some very nice smelling poo (which made my humans less happy).

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(c) pawsatthekerb™, March 2017.